Petrol sales soar 85 per cent as motorists panic buy

Yesterday saw petrol up 85 per cent and diesel up 43 per cent as drivers rushed out to the pumps after a minister recommended stockpiling petrol at home.

The Petrol Retailers Association reported the dramatic increase in sales after Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude suggested motorists stock up on petrol filling any spare jerry cans.

Petrol prices also hit a new high yesterday reaching 140.70p per litre, diesel is also at a record 146.98 per litre.

Petrol stations are in danger of running dry, and the government has called in the military to prepare for a strike by tank drivers.

Strike dates have still not be announced by Unite and motoring groups have said ministers are creating a ‘self-fulfilling’ fuel shortage.

A spokesman for the Petrol Retailers Association said government advice was causing the problem.

He said: ‘This is exactly what we didn’t want – people panic buying. Deliveries are still being made to garages and we are advising people to continue with their normal buying habits.’

The AA said current fuel shortages were the result of bad advice and rumours leading to panic buying.

AA president Edmund King said: ‘There is no fuel tanker strike and therefore if drivers followed normal fuel buying patterns there would be no fuel shortage whatsoever. We now have self-inflicted shortages due to poor advice about topping up the tank and hoarding in jerry cans. This in turn has led to localised shortages, queues and some profiteering at the pumps.

‘Theoretically if 30million cars with half full tanks are advised to fill up over 24 hours, this means that 750million litres of fuel would be sold, whereas average sales over 24 hours would be 90million litres. So it is no surprise that the “top-up” advice has lead to shortages.’